According to Jimmie Johnson, his goal for the this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup has been to earn maximum points. He did that at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday when he led the most laps and won the AAA Texas 500.
“It was an awesome race,” Johnson said in victory lane.
Johnson dominated the race early, leading 164 laps before losing the lead to Kyle Busch on a restart following a caution that came out for debris on lap 186. After locking up the most-laps-led bonus, Johnson didn’t return to the lead until taking the top spot from Brad Keselowski on a restart for a green-white-checker finish.
Keselowski finished second but fell to his largest deficit of the Chase — seven points.
“Thy’re keeping us honest and pressing us hard,” Johnson said of Keselowski and the No. 2 team.
Busch finished third after trouble on pit road early in the race. After running second, Busch missed his pit stall, trying to avoid the No. 17 of Matt Kenseth, during a cycle of green-flag pit stops around lap 45. When the cycle of stops completed, Busch was back to 10th.
After working his way back toward the front and to the lead following the lap 186 caution, Busch led the way until he was passed for the top spot by Keselowski with 99 laps remaining. Keselowski then pulled away from the field, but his margin was erased by the yellow flag with 59 laps to go.
He fell back to ninth during the caution when he had to back up in his pit stall to get around the No. 10 of Danica Patrick pitted in front of him. Keselowski worked his way back into the top-five and then retook the lead with pit strategy, taking only right side tires when the yellow flag waved again with 23 laps to go.
Keselowski was able to hold off second-place Busch keep the lead, but when the yellow flag waved again with 14 to go, it was Johnson, not Busch, that Keselowski had to get out in front of when the race went back to green.
“I thought I had it, but we kept getting all them yellows,” Keselowski said.
Keselowski was able to get out in front of Johnson after some-side-by-side, pysical racing, but the yellow flag wasn’t retired for the race. It came out again with five laps to go, making for a green-white-checker finish. Johnson was able to take the lead from Keselowski on the final restart to win his second-consecutive race and extend his points lead over Keselowski.
“I had to choose between wrecking him and winning the race, and I decided not to wreck him,” Keselowski said.
Busch finished third, Kenseth was fourth and Tony Stewart rounded out the top-five.
“Good night for us,” Busch said. “Wish we were in the deal (Chase), but that’s what next year’s for.”
Finishing sixth through 10th were Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle.
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